Garmin automatic synchronisation to Strava and implication for ConnectStats

Strava now automatically synchronises with Garmin

Garmin provide now automatic synchronisation with different services, most notably Strava. You can read about it from this post from @dcrainmakerblog.

I find it very useful. I personally use Strava as well, I like their segment functionality and the social aspect of followers.

This is a continuation of the new policy change of Garmin to not support 3rd party app that access the data from garmin directly. You can also read about it here from @dcrainmakerblog

What’s next for ConnectStats

For ConnectStats, this new approach of auto sync just does not work. I do not have the ability, the means nor the time to build my own service to save users data on a web server and use that from ConnectStats.

Garmin announced that they would stop supporting the API ConnectStats uses, but as of beginning of August and the time of writing this, it still continues to work. We just don’t know for how much longer.

To address the potential shutdown, ConnectStats can use Strava as data source instead of Garmin Connect.

I still believe that ConnectStats can be quite useful to many users with extra plots, reports and views it provide currently not available directly from other services on an iOS device. So I will try to continue maintaining ConnectStats even if Garmin shuts down the API access. For that purpose the auto sync to strava is very useful, because it lets ConnectStats use Strava as a service provider to replace Garmin Connect.

What ConnectStats users will loose

It’s not all perfect though, here are some of what will be lost when Garmin Connect shuts down its service and ConnectStats user have to switch fully to Strava:

  • The auto sync service only seems to upload recent activities, long history of data will no longer be available to users.
  • Strava API itself only lets you download the two most recent months of activity via their API. This is quite an issue because a large part of the attraction of ConnectStats is to do comparison and plots that go back in time. My favourite features are to compare my fitness evolution over long period of time
  • Strava API currently will not provide access to all the different fields provided by garmin devices. Training Effects, Normalized Power, Vertical Oscillation, and many other data will no longer be available access to the garmin service stops and ConnectStats user switch to Strava.

Note that to mitigate the issue with only accessing recent history from Strava, I plan to add a merge feature to ConnectStats multiple service support, so at the time Garmin Connect API shuts down for those lucky user that already have their history saved on their device they can continue and use strava only for new activities.

Recent Silence

I have been recently a bit quiet. I admit the idea of potentially not being able to download data from Garmin and the implication of an end of ConnectStats wasn’t a great motivation to build new features.

Recently though I had a couple of ideas that excited me. I am still working on ability to keep track of time in zone, best rolling plots, Critical power plots etc over time. I would love to be able to compare my best rolling plot of current month versus last, or versus a given year, etc.

The other feature I am working on is ability to compare your recent performance (current training) versus your long term built fitness. Somewhat inspired by training peaks’ performance chart, and leveraging ideas from the following articles about how to measure impact of exercise.

ConnectStats setup for multiple services

From version 1.8, ConnectStats can source its activities data from different services. This was mainly done such that there is a future for the app, even if Garmin decide to close its data to 3rd parties.

In the first release, ConnectStats will support extracting data from Strava. At this point, getting the data from Garmin is still the only way to get running dynamics data for the new garmin devices (Forerunner 620), or some advance statistics like Normalized Power, etc. But Strava provide a good alternative for everything else.

We will go over in this post how to set up services. Please note it can be quite useful to maintain different profiles when using multiple services. You can also have several services enabled for one profile and it will combine the activities.

You access the setup from the settings page as below. The green arrow 1 points to the services setup, and 2 to the profiles setup.
To enable a service for activities download, turn on the Download Activities toggle.


Services Setup

The service setup screen will initial shows the list of service with the setup for Garmin expanded. After all, at this point this app is still focused on the Garmin service… Simply tap on the service name, pointed with the blue arrow, to expand or collapse the setup information for a given service.


Garmin Setup

For garmin, once you enable the service, your main choice is the log in method.

  • With the direct method you enter your name and password, and ConnectStats will handle the login directly.
  • With the Web method you need to enter your name and password manually when required in the Garmin login screen. The direct method is much better, but unfortunately the Garmin service seems a bit capricious and sometimes returns an Access Denied, in which car using the web method can usually help.

Note that from the experience of users so far the Access Denied error usually is transient and after a day or so the connection may work again. Needless to say that Garmin has so far not helped providing any info how to avoid the problem. If they charge the fee they mentioned, one can only hope they will provide better support and a more reliable 3rd party access process.

There is also a Manual Login option. This is a last resort tool if all fails to see via a browser what happens during the login process. Try to login and once the Garmin Connect Dashboard appear, you can press either the List button or One to manually query some of the API the app is using.

Strava Setup

You can use Strava service in two ways:

  • As the source for your activities, when the Download Activities toggle is on.
  • To upload the activities you look at, when the Auto Sync on Download toggle is on.

There is no entry for the username and password in Strava, as the service rely on authentication via Strava website directly. What that mean is that, when you will try to use the service, the Strava website login will pop up. You will then need to enter your credential and the first time, authorise ConnectStats to access your data. Once you have connected once, usually the login won’t be presented again, unless you change profile.

Withings Setup

You can use Withings data to enrich your analysis with history of your weight or other measurement from a Withings scale.
To Enable, you need to enter your name and password in the setup, and Tap the Press to login line.

If your credentials were entered correctly, the screen should show the following


If you have several user in your Withings accounts, you can select the correct one to use.

If you select the Auto Refresh option, every time you update your activities, ConnectStats will query the Withings service for new measures.

When the service is enabled, you will see in each activity details the latest weight corresponding to a given activity and in the Stats section you’ll be able to use the weight series.